Every time I see a news bulletin about a community coming together to help a child acquire medical treatment, or a device to aid with their disability, I never feel uplifted. I feel angry that a community needs to do this. I feel frustrated that the well-being of children is so oft-neglected that a story of one child able to thrive is a celebration.
I understand why, though. I'm currently watching a friend who is in a management position for a Fortune 500 company desperately try to bulk up her savings before giving birth to her first child, because her insurance leaves her with an absurd amount of bills still to pay. She hasn't yet gotten invested in buying cribs or clothes or any of the other things pregnant moms-to-be do when they nest. She just wants to afford to have her child in a hospital.
She's not alone. The internet is full of people without insurance because it's become unaffordable even on an income over $100,000 a year, or people whose insurance treats them like a profit loss instead of a human.
The cost of being alive is staggering, and it's only getting worse.
When the cost of healthcare is so insane that what should be a happy milestone in any young married couple's life -- having a baby -- is treated like potentially disastrous debt instead of the best reason to be in a hospital, something is very wrong.
Netflix's documentary, "The Bleeding Edge," takes a look into the staggeringly minimal amount of regulation and testing required for new medical devices to hit the market. It is a horror show of the medical industry gone wrong, from birth-control devices causing lifelong disability to hernia-mesh malfunctions that, for one couple, caused over a decade of inability to have intercourse because the rogue mesh lacerated the husband on attempt.
I've heard less disturbing and cringe-inducing urban stories about serial killers. How can the industry we trust at our most vulnerable, with the lives and well-being of the people who matter the most to us, treat us this way?
In short? Because we live in the United States.
An investigative study conducted by USA Today proclaimed the United States is the most dangerous developed country in the world in which to give birth. Injury and mortality rates among expectant mothers is higher than any other developed country.
While other countries continually improve techniques to ensure life, including simple methods like weighing blood loss to measure hemorrhaging and addressing high blood pressure immediately to prevent strokes, the United States simply ... doesn't. There is no regulation in place, and despite every major medical association that educates and advocates on matters related to childbirth practically begging hospitals to adapt a better methodology, there is nothing that can actually make them.
To add insult to injury, it is more expensive to give birth in the United Statesthan literally every other country in the world.
Meanwhile, Trump's EPA is loosening regulations on asbestos, a chemical known to cause mesothelioma, a cancer that, despite extensive research, currently has no cure. Why would Trump be for allowing more asbestos in homes and workplaces, despite the clear danger? The answer lies in Russia, where at least one brand of asbestos is sold with his face and approval stamped on the package. Meanwhile, 15,000 people die every yearin the US due to asbestos. Russia remains the largest exporter of asbestos to the US.
Once upon a time, the answer to poor health coverage was to polish up the old resume or get a professional to improve your resume, and go job hunting (and in some cases it still is). You could pursue a higher-educational goal to make yourself a better-tier income earner. But for a lot of people, the most popular solution is to move to another country or pay entirely out of pocket to have a medical procedure performed in another country (which is, sadly, often less expensive, travel expenses included).
For those unable to travel abroad, the only other option is to seek out an emergency loan to help pay for medical expenses.
I have friends who don't go to the doctor when they're ill because the cost of medical treatment is too steep. I have friends who ignore tooth pain because dental work is out of their financial reach.
Is this a sign of the times? Or is this the way it always was -- only now our society is vocal about all the things we kept hushed up before for fear of shaming ourselves? Is our capitalist-driven society privatizing the cost of survival to the point that good health is a luxury?
When you look around, it appears that the people we elect are bartering our ability to survive for cash and power. TV and social media make the mirage of wealth and luxury feel closer than ever, when in reality, it is slipping further and further away. Are we still living the American dream, or have Americans become the victims of sunken cost fallacy? When do we say enough is enough?